Saturday, June 29, 2013

Technology and Techno-jolly

Technology is the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes. Succinct though that is, it can be further synthesized / generalized into this phrase: "applying knowledge to practice". Let the high ho tech be, it is a generalization that is applicable even to the merest of know-how required to say... clean a drain quickly and well, the technology of a coconut ekel broom to help the process along and the efficient application of that technology to the actual practice of de-gunking a cluttered waste-channel.

This is the only area where human effort differs from that of animals. Human beings do this consciously and therefore there are no real limits to either the application or the practice of technology. The majority of animals have no clue what on earth technology is. Only a very small number (primate species and pachyderms primarily) display the conscious use of rudimentary technology. Regardless of whether it is scientific knowledge or otherwise, human being score over animals in their inherent ability to engage with and change such conditions as are presented to them in order to optimize physical comfort, acquire body inputs, engage in social activity , obtain knowledge , increase individual and collective security  and minimize external threat.

From the FLINTSTONES to F.R.I.E.N.D.S., from  hand-held fans to ceiling fans, from water harvesting to water-fowl harvesting, from travelling to meet others in carts to travelling to meet others in cars, from running up a banner informing people Guy Fawkes will die at dawn to running down a book that analyses the history of that execution, from threatening an individual with an arrowhead to threatening a nation with a warhead, to constructing a house to neutralize one's fear of nameless threats to constructing a holocaust for the same purpose, one thing has been quite clear: technology, if it has any relevance, is in the physical output of its application to the human life-dynamic.

 Now, with the advent of information and communications technology, that status-quo has changed - somewhat. Grin. Starting from the very basic level where the mouth as the primary communications tool has been replaced by fingers, by gradations, wave maps have removed the requirement for musical instruments, pixel ink droppers have removed the requirement for real ink palettes, teleconferences have removed the requirement for Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes, Googling has removed the requirement for libraries/ GP diagnostics/ prescriptions/ mechanical repair experts and what else not, virtual memorials have removed the requirement to say a verbal goodbye to the dead, eating a pizza on an instant messenger has replaced the need for a convivial meeting at a restaurant, thought transmission at the instant of thought formation has replaced thought consideration and thought qualification before thought publication and alpha-wave generation as an outcome of physical fornication has been replaced by a virtual option that removes the need for either fluid exchange, human regeneration or disease transmission.

Kewl? ya bet! ROFLMAO. If I were ten years younger, I'd GNOC online with a rumba for my 1174 on 121 to celebrate and underscore the sheer thrill of it all. Granted, some of them might hit 911 to complain about physical display of a 511 but still, AFAIAC, IDGAF. Smoochies! 459! Think I actually like the brainless way in which this new abbrevationese or netese has replaced Shakespeare? betcha!

Or betcha not more like it. Those two preceding paras was certainly true after a fashion. Sure, we can assign it some truth value given a very specific framework of engagement. However, let us not kid ourselves. It is not true for all frameworks of engagement and, when its life itself that we are considering, validity of a process for a limited spectrum of human living is, to all intents and purposes, useless.

Within the engagement window of so called "soft pursuits" such as thinking,  knowing, creating artwork, writings and music, social engagement, conviviality, sharing of emotional states and gratification of sexual urges, nothing, repeat, nothing, beats the emerging technologies. Indeed, at the mundane, materialist end of the spectrum of human experience, these technologies allow a very large percentage of human being to feed on, taste and absorb some of the most powerfully positive states of mind known to mankind. States of mental and emotional goodness that were earlier exclusively in the domain of a privileged few. If there is any base, crude, material joy in this world, now, more than ever, experiencing them has become almost completely democratic. No wonder people are thrilled. So much so that "technologies" as a word has become synonymous with "technojollies". So much so that instead of asking an online support person to "tell me what improvements there are in the technology" people have become used to asking "explain the new technojollies to me please". Or, in accepted parlance, instead of "What are the new TLGs" they will ask "What are the new TJLs".

All well and good but why is this tragic? Simple. All of this is pure mind-stuff. Despite this change in the relevance of technology from practical purposes to mental purposes  giving large swaths of people a whole load of jollies not entirely unlike the plethora of recreational drugs, it  has one, very serious drawback in terms of why human beings, differentiated from animals, use technology.

These new techs cannot either optimize physical comfort or minimize external threats.

In fact, they frequently have the opposite effect. Spending years staring at screens has a physical result of significantly weakening bodies since bodies are irrelevant to the application of new technologies. Additionally, such pursuits substantially reduces the ability of human beings to recognize or respond to external physical threats from every kind of predator with every kind of agenda to every kind of hunger with every kind of intensity. An entire generation is growing up with little know-how on how to clean a drain, plant a potato or use a martial art just to name a microcosm of the total skills set and technologies required to ensure personal, family, collective or national well being. Survival with technojollies? possibly, sure, in a twilight zone. Well being? no way.


At some point in the not-too-distant future, these beings, merely inhabiting human frames, knowing little and caring less about the constituent components of a quality human being, recognizing excellence only in a person's gaming ability, understanding human existence only in the number of formless beings that appear on their friends lists, caring nothing about how much they stink since smell cannot be transmitted via electronics with all the goodwill in the world, recognizing threats only in terms of what is fed to them through a gazillion blogs, knowing how to navigate three airports with a baby only to that extent that they have managed to get such information off the "virtual connectivity continuum", seeings nothing much, hearing even less, cognizant of environments but not at all, fearful and suspicious of any and all who look their ways, terrified of the next person who says "hello" to them at a bus stop, these non-being beings, will, have, to, deal with the fact that there is a very big chance that civilization will be instantly destroyed. Why?

Because no one really knew how to clean a headset properly and the resulting viral pandemic ended up wiping out the entire human race off the face of the earth.

This is neither a bad thing nor a good thing. It is just a thing. From all that I see, hear and understand from checking out the world in this kick-ass-here-and-now-pesky-inconvenient-touchy-feely-reality, even these things will fade, as all things fade, as all things fall, as all things part, as all things cease.

It doesn't make for an overall feeling of "goodness" of course but in defense of TJLs, nothing, but nothing, can actually feel good for any significant length of time regardless of whether or not the source of that goodness is mental or physical, virtual or real, theoretical or practical. It is not as if this is completely  unknown to human beings. On the contrary, they are all, at least to some vague extent, aware of this condition. Three movies clearly indicate this by their popularity.

  1. The Matrix trilogy: Human beings are pretty worried about the status they are in and would like to believe that the entire universe is all a virtual reality that has been pulled over their eyes from which dream state they expect to wake up at any moment.
  2. The Harry Potter series: How thrilling it would be if this dream state is actually the real state and the culmination of that status is the ability to conjure up food or destroy an enemy with just the wave of an S-pen or stylus. 
  3. The Hunger games: Ok. So it was all a dream. But wow! How great and cosy it would be to go back to the middle ages? 

Well, yes, the universe is a dream state that one pulls over one's own eyes and which we in the east called maya, and yes, in that dream state, with a bit of mental concentration quite familiar to us in the east, food, enemies and other such matters can be dealt with summarily and yes, to us in the east, the stone age is not all that far into the future given the fact that most of the powers that be believe that its ills can be wiped out with a few jabs at the touch screen of an iPhone.

For those rare non-initiates, below are the meanings of Netese words used in this post (I prefer not to call them abbreviations since they are, to all intents and purposes, an actual language. Yeah, its got word roots, a grammar, syntax and semantic rules all of its own): 

ROFLMAO: Rolling on the floor, laughing my a*** off
GNOC: Get naked on camera
1174:Nude club (I really don't know the root of this word)
121: One to one 
911: Well, everyone knows this is the scream for help - LOL  (laugh out loud)
511: Too much information (one dials 411 for information, add one to it and you get too much information) 
AFAIAC: As far as I am concerned
IDGAF: I don't give a f***
459: I love you (the numbers correspond to the letters "I", "L" and "Y" on a standard cellphone keypad)

For a fairly comprehensive list (and since this is a living language unlike English, it is constantly changing), click here! 

(This post was triggered by a forward from my father. The pictures are from that forward -captions mine- with this quote from Albert Einstein "I fear the day when our technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots". Well, folks, its not that bad as in absolutely bad, its only relatively bad when compared with all the other bads of the world. Also, idiocy is not solely the result of technology. Science in general in its substantive entirety has had a far more encompassing role to play in the manufacture of consent for sheer dumbness of the modern subset of "good" ideas) 

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